The first thing you notice about the site is that it looks like it’s been dusted with parma violets. There are a few issues with this.
Pink is a tad off-genre
For those of you unfamiliar with the works of George R. R. Martin, he writes a lot of medieval fantasy full of death, dragons and scantily clad wenches - so 'a tad off genre’ may be an understatement. The point is, a website should be designed with its audience and purpose in mind.
It’s painfully inaccessible
The colour scheme isn’t just offence to the eyes – it actually causes a lot of accessibility problems. AccessColor, a handy online tool for checking colour schemes against accessibility guidelines, reports that 67% of the homepage fails its tests.
Put it this way – reading pink text on a lilac background isn’t a walk in the park for those with good vision, let alone someone with colour blindness.
This site boasts possibly the worst navigation system we’ve ever come across. That is, when we're lucky enough to come across it – some of the subpages don’t even have a menu.
There’s a lot more to complain about, so we’ll make it brief:
two menus per page. A small singular site needs only one menu per page - two is confusing.
too many menu links. The number should be halved.
ambiguous images. The spinning crests above menu links may be recognisable by George’s fans, but for other users they just add to the confusion.
ambiguous menu names. Knights? Wild card samples? Musings? Users need to be sure of where they are going.
disappearing text. When hovering over a menu link, the text disappears. This is less than helpful.
It’s almost as if he doesn’t want us to look through the site. But with layouts like that, we don’t blame him.
As an example, let's look at the images and text layout on the Life and Times page.
The first thing we did on this page was to have a good gander at the images – all in one go. This was entertaining, but aside from noticing that George has had the same pair of 60’s specs all his life, we didn’t take in much information. What's more, that large stretch of text now looks distinctly unexciting in comparison to hairy mug shots.
Problem: The page layout completely separates images from textual information.
Solution: It's a webpage, George, not a picture book. Images on a webpage should lead your eye to information, not away from it. This can be done just by indenting a section of text with a relevant image – kind of like the site's page on Bayonne. But better.
It also wouldn’t hurt to bung a few subheadings in to break up text.
4. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
SEO is the improvement of a website's visability in search engine results. Some simple things you can do to improve SEO are:
There, now you know more than whoever created georgerrmartin.com. A few more good things to do include:
nest headings correctly (e.g. H2 after H1.)
never use more than one H1 per page.
use specific, relevant key words in text and headings.
Oddly, George's site is high up in search results - but we've put this down to heavy traffic (i.e. all the visitors redirected from webpagesthatsuck.com).
Unfortunately, there's little advantage to be taken from heavy traffic if all your visitors go away with a bad impression.